By: Jenny B.

Dedicated to my mother.

Content warning: This short story has brief mentions and descriptions of parental death.  

It was the year I started 9th grade when my father died.

A drunk driver ran a red light and crashed into his car, killing him instantly in front of me and two other children at an intersection in the middle of town. My mother had screamed, crying and screaming, as she cradled his head. When I’d walked past the body, staring at it for what felt like hours, a strange feeling had come over me. I’m going to miss you, Dad. 

My mother never talked about my father or his death again, but that didn’t stop her from being sad. That’s why, when a few months later, our old neighbors, Mrs. And Mr. Hargrove, invited us over for dinner, I wasn’t too surprised by the invite. They hadn’t been very close to my father either, but they always treated me with kindness.

I remember when we first met. We were having a big dinner party for Mrs. Hargrove’s daughter’s birthday celebration and I had spent most of that night talking to my friend, Rachel Walker. She was beautiful—her strawberry blonde hair fell softly around her pale face, her eyes were blue and sparkling, and even though I already knew who she was, I still thought she was incredibly stunning. It must have been obvious because the adults in the room looked confused, asking if there was something I wasn’t saying. I blushed a bit when I realized what I’d said, shaking my head frantically. “I’m so sorry,” I told them. “That was rude of me.”

Rachel giggled softly and shook her head. “It’s okay. You don’t need to apologize. Everyone gets distracted sometimes.” She glanced over toward my mom who was busy helping the maid clear the table. “Your mom seems very kind,” she said softly.

I nodded, glancing away from my mom. She’d lost so much; she deserved some time to enjoy herself before everyone else started making demands on her.

“She is, isn’t she?” I agreed. Rachel smiled at me and patted my arm before heading over to where one of my younger cousins had started throwing glitter everywhere.

I stood there watching her for a moment, trying to ignore the weird way I was feeling inside. I couldn’t explain it; I just knew that I wanted to be near her when she finished dancing. After a moment, Mrs. Hargrove appeared by my side.

“Everything alright?” she asked softly, placing a hand on my shoulder. Her hazel eyes shone kindly.

I nodded. “Yes, everything's fine, thank you," I said. "I’m sorry, I should probably go find something to do."

I glanced back toward Rachel only to see her look up and catch my gaze. Our eyes locked for a second.

For a second, it seemed like she almost smiled, but then she quickly dropped her gaze and turned back to dance. I watched her for a moment longer before turning back to my own mother. I could feel her worried gaze on me as I joined her near the dessert table. 

Mrs. Hargrove caught my eye as we passed and gave me a comforting smile. I forced a small smile of my own in return before turning away and looking down at the cake my grandmother had baked.


The next day, Mrs. and Mr. Hargrove took me and Rachel out for ice cream after school. At first, Rachel seemed hesitant, but soon enough she found a place to sit while I scooped us both cones.

Once she was settled across from me, she leaned forward and stared at the cone in my hands. “Can I have a bite?” she asked me with a smirk. 

I shook my head and laughed. “Here, I got extra.”

As I put the spoonful of ice cream into her mouth, she hummed happily. “Ohmygod! This is amazing! What’s this?”

I glanced down at the top of her ice cream. It was decorated with tiny little sprinkles of chocolate flakes. I frowned slightly, but Rachel’s eyes lit up in delight.

“What is it?” she repeated impatiently.

“Chocolate.” I answered quietly, still not looking directly at her. I had the sinking feeling that my cheeks were bright pink.

"Ooohh... Chocolate! I love chocolate."

"I know," I said. "Do you want some more?”

"No thanks! Chocolate’s good, but nothing beats this one." She grinned widely. "Now that I think about it, it reminds me a lot of your freckles."

I froze, unable to believe what I had heard. Slowly, I turned to face her and noticed how quickly color rose to my cheeks. “I—”

"Is something wrong?" She suddenly grew concerned. "You're all pink..."

Her question made me panic even more. I had no idea what to say. "Ya…" I mumbled finally. "Ya I am. Sorry."

"Why are you sorry?"

I sighed, running my fingers through my hair, messing it up. I couldn't meet her gaze anymore. "I don't know." My voice sounded so shaky. "I don't even know why you're saying these things to me…"

Silence followed as I tried desperately to collect myself. I heard the soft crunching of ice beneath Rachel’s foot as she shifted closer to me, and I could feel the heat radiating off her body. Then, slowly she pressed her lips to mine.

My mind went completely blank. All I could hear was the soft sound of our bodies moving together as she moved against me. She tasted salty and sweet somehow. Like she belonged somewhere better than here. My heart fluttered in my chest as she pulled me closer, pressing her body against my own and making my head spin. Suddenly I felt her lips pull away and all I could focus on was how cold it suddenly felt without them touching mine. As I gazed at Rachel, I realized that she wasn't looking at me anymore. Instead, her gaze was trained on the ground. Her face was flushed and she was biting her lip nervously. 

And then it hit me: Rachel Walker had kissed me.

And I kissed her right back. 

I couldn't help myself. I loved her, and I wanted to kiss her. I didn't want to hide anymore. I was gay and in love with my best friend, but she obviously liked me back, right?

She was kissing me again.

When we separated again, I could barely breathe. But as I opened my eyes, I saw the look in her eyes. She looked terrified and uncertain, but also hopeful. And I swear the way she was looking at me… it was like the entire world stopped existing for a split second.

"Are you sure, Amaya?" she asked quietly. Her cheeks were pink. Her blue eyes were wide open and shimmering. She looked nervous but excited. 

I nodded slowly. I wasn't even sure what I meant to say, but I had never felt more certain about anything. "Yeah… yeah, Rachel, I'm sure. I love you as more than a friend."

She blinked quickly once and then broke into a huge smile. “Awesome!” Then she wrapped her arms around me, squeezing me tight. When she lifted her face up to mine, she brushed her lips lightly against mine before whispering, “I love you too, Amaya."

I finally felt relief and happiness since my dad’s death.

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